If you attempted to cram any more acts into last night's show, the result would have teetered dangerously on the precipice of musical overload. The approximately four-hour gig started with Gym Class Heroes, frontman Travis McCoy's conversational tone with the crowd running the gambit from loose references to his recent break-up with pop darling Katy Perry to Obama references in honor of the following day's festivities. While GCH often sound over-produced, they killed it live and ignited the room. The night's second act, singer and BET reality television star Keyshia Cole, managed to not get completely overpowered by the sheer amount of testosterone on that Target Center stage, which was a feat in itself. And while there's no denying that Cole is talented and can seriously belt it, bits and pieces of her set bordered on hokey and at times she was swallowed whole by her sparse stage set up.
But let's get down to this show's inevitable truth: This night belonged to T-Pain, and most importantly, Lil Wayne.
T-Pain's portion of the night exploded with his already well-documented eccentricity, set up as his "Nappy Boy 3-Ring Circus," with circus being the operative word. Bookending the stage were two red and white striped tents with a piano that resembled a calliope and the other housed his DJ. Mostly it was a fun and entertaining spectacle by T-Pain and company that solidified his weird, yet legitimate and growing star power.
As the T-Pain circus made a quick changeover into Weezy's sleek stage set up, the man of the year made his appearance through a cloud of fog that filled the arena, booming flashpots and a ballistic crowd as he opened with "Mr. Carter," his track off Tha Carter III with collaborator Jay-Z. His live band was suspended on platforms that would be high up in the rafters at one moment, float above the stage at another, and then rest close enough to the stage for a while for the musicians to possibly get their bearings. It didn't take very long for T-Pain to make his way back on the stage as he and his cohort played their giant track "Got Money," as the Auto-Tune king zipped around on a Segway - presumably just because he can. That itself evolved into a "Feature-Off" between the two artists - reviewing their past-year's contributions on other people's records and showing off their dance moves. While it was entertaining, it got a little long. In essence, the whole night was almost like an old-time roadshow - with the mass quantities of acts, etc, combined with Wayne's stellar Young Money crew that spit rhymes like nobody's business during the show. With the non-stop appearance of guests that became familiar of Wayne's career, last night's performance of "Turnin' Me On," with Keri Hilson, was a tight and simply fantastic number, leaving the crowd wanting more from Hilson.
The City's music-loving masses have been waiting for the superstar that is Lil Wayne to come through town and he delivered a quality show from start to finish, complete with multiple costume changes that at one point included a Purple Rain t-shirt. The slickness of Wayne's glossy spectacle was rounded out by great performances of tracks like, "Phone Home," and "Mrs. Officer," complete with singer Bobby Valentino (who got his own round of applause over his acting resume from Degrassi) . Toward the end, the show ended with an encore of "Lollipop", complete with Day-Glo ladies and a stripper pole , and later, a thumping live version of "A Milli," that just added to the gigantic, pyrotechnics-filled dance party.
Wayne ended everything with a clip from the Martin show played on the big screen and mouthed some of the dialog (yes, it's true) and then burst into the Whitney Houston version of "I Will Always Love You, proclaiming that he is our bodyguard. Wayne was then draped in a robe and disappeared into the floor. It was hilarious and endearing - especially for a man who has been quoted as saying he's only rapping for the money - and it was a strange yet perfect ending to a great night. And hey, Wayne ? We love you too.